• Victoria Merness

My Journey

Updated: Jun 19

Always follow your dreams.

The road to being a stitch artist has been a long and winding one with many threads, pardon the pun.

I remember the first time that I heard the word “artist”. I was aged about four and sat at my Nanna’s kitchen table scribbling away with my crayons when she said “That girl is going to be an artist.” When I asked what an artist did she said “Someone that paints pictures” and I remember thinking “That sounds great so that’s what I’ll be!”

Even though I excelled at art subjects in school I didn’t pursue art as a career and left school at the age of sixteen. This was the 1980’s in North West England and there weren’t many opportunities as the country was in a depression with many industries closing. I was lucky to get a job as an Office Junior in an interior design company and I began a career in administration, something that paid the bills but quite honestly bored me to tears.

It was only at the age of 26 that I got to exercise my creative nature when I studied Marketing and then became a Marketing Manager. This later led to a career in Buying and I became a furniture buyer for the UK’s largest mail order catalogue company. Here I could design furniture and plan catalogue page layouts and it provided a creative outlet as I was immersed in fabrics and textiles. However I always had a dream to study art and the prospectus of the local university was squirreled away in my desk drawer with details of the Fine Art degree courses that I would daydream about.

It wasn’t until I set up my own interior design company that I had the flexibility to study a foundation degree in art at a local college. I was 40 years old and in a class of mainly 19 year old girls who were preparing to apply to university. I didn’t anticipate that I would be able to go to university and mistakenly thought I was too old. The teacher persuaded me to apply to The University of Bolton to a Contemporary Fine Art degree and I instantly got accepted, and I also got a distinction in my foundation degree.

I had mainly engaged in painting at foundation degree level and although the other girls in the class were studying fashion and textiles I was reluctant to get involved in the embroidery classes. That is until my final project when I made Angelina, a doll made from felt and painted canvas.

Angelina

Angelina’s dress was made from one of my landscape paintings on a canvas that I then cut up and stitched together to make a dress. The dress featured several quotes around the subject of home and family, a recurring theme throughout my work even now.




Even though the clues that I loved texture and textiles were all there in my textural painted and stitched work I still pursued painting at degree level but then progressing to paper cutting at the end of the course and in my degree show.


Displacement Tryptich -Acrylic on Board (4ft x 2ft)


Degree Show in 2011 at The University of Bolton


I graduated in 2011 with a B.A. Hons in Contemporary Fine Art and did nothing creatively for the next seven years, I didn’t even pick up a paint brush. I sank into a pit of inactivity and a sea of worthless and unfulfilling administrative job roles. It was only in 2016 when my Mum became terminally ill that I embarked on a ten week evening course in Textiles at the local college. This proved to be extremely creatively fulfilling as I learnt various techniques such as stitching and felting. This led to the desire to study further and in 2018 I enrolled onto a Masters Degree in Contemporary Fine Art at The University of Salford. The preferred medium this time was hand embroidery and this has proved to be the most creatively fulfilling time ever. Finally after all those years I have found my creative home in artistic embroidery. The focus of my study is well-being and therapy through craft practices and stitched textile art. This is because I have found hand embroidery to be so mentally beneficial throughout the awful time of my Mum being so ill and in the grieving stages following that. It has really helped me to cope and it is now my desire to pass this on and to help others.


My friend Carluccio –Stitch on linen (60 x 60 cm)

The Masters Degree course ends in August 2020 and unfortunately Covid 19 has put an end to taught classes but I am ploughing ahead with my final project and thesis. I am determined to reach the finishing line and I am hoping that the business that I have now set up ‘Little House of Victoria’ will continue to thrive and help others. I was lucky enough to be awarded funding from University to help set up my business as well as a new website from DAR Studio, this has been a lifeline to me, especially after losing my paid work when the virus hit in March. I am very grateful to all those that have helped me. I am hoping that the Printed Embroidery Kits that I have put together will enable me to reach out to the stitching community and to help people achieve their creative goals especially with the mentoring package that accompanies it. I am really looking forward to meeting fellow stitchers and joining them on their creative journeys. The personalised embroidery kits are suitable for embroiderers of any skill level, and the Project In A Box is an embroidery kit for beginners too. It can be immensely therapeutic to focus on a loved one through embroidery or even a favourite place or pet, or something that just makes you happy.


Great Aunt Pauline –Stitch on linen (70 x 45 cm)

Working from vintage photos of my family has really provided comfort through connection with the past, and family now seems more important than ever. By stitching these family members it has provided a sense of security even though I never actually knew them. The healing power of stitch is very powerful and something I feel is crucial in these uncertain times. Please remember it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and if I can help you to achieve your creative goals in any way then please drop me a line and I will be only to glad to help.



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